New Year’s Resolutions

“Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.”

-1 Timothy 4:15 (NIV)

If you’re anything like me, you don’t usually complete your new year’s resolution. If you’re like me, you don’t even remember what last year’s resolution was at this point. But that doesn’t mean that making resolutions is pointless.

For most of us, we see the new year as a new start. We vow that we are going to live our best lives and get better by eating healthier, exercising more, losing weight, reading our bible more, drinking less coffee, getting rid of whatever thing we think is holding us back from being the best version of ourself.

Really, the only thing between you and a better you is yourself. Ever heard the saying, “you are your own worst enemy”?

The hardest part about new years resolution isn’t making the resolution. It’s sticking to it when after a month, you don’t know if there’s been any progress. That’s when the devil starts whispering in your ear, telling you lies. Saying there’s no point, it’s not working, you might as well give up. There’s always next year.

But a fact of life: Eventually, there won’t be a next year. So why put it off? If you keep it up long enough, you’ll see the results. And if not? If it’s a good enough habit to be a new year’s resolution, then it’s probably a good habit to have in life anyway, visible results or not.

The trick is starting small. Make it manageable. Don’t be so general you don’t know what you’re really aiming for. Be specific. Know exactly what you’re aiming for and stick to it. If it’s what God has planned for you, He will help you every step of the way. And why wouldn’t he? He wants you to be the best you, too.

Happy New Year and have a blessed week!

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“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

-John 13: 34-35 (NIV)

Christmas break is finally here. For some of us, that means rest and relaxation and sleeping in until noon. For others, the Martha’s of the world, it means preparing the house for Christmas guests, baking goodies for everyone to enjoy, cleaning the house and decking the halls.

Whether you are in the former category or the latter, it is important to remember that Christmas is about people. Jesus came for people. He served people. So if you just got done with finals or just finished the last work day before Christmas vacation and all you want to do is sleep, then sleep. If you are the home that the first category is coming to for break and you’re the one rushing to get sheets on beds and cookies in the oven, take a breather. It will all get taken care of, I promise. God has a way of getting everything to work itself out.

But when people start arriving, greet them, love on them, give them your full attention. And if you’re the one arriving? Offering to help is always appreciated. I know you’re tired, but so are they. They’ve more than likely worked just as hard as you to get everything ready for you. Appreciate their work.

Jesus came for people. People are important. So at this precious time of year when we have a reason to come together, appreciate the people in your life and give them the love that Christ gives you.

And remember those who cannot be with loved ones, for whatever reason. Pray for them and let them know that they are in our hearts and on our minds.

Merry Christmas and have a blessed week!

Being Disliked

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

-Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

I had a realization this past week regarding something that I have struggled with in the past. It was something I had always known, but have had trouble truly accepting and applying to my thoughts in everyday life.

Whether or not someone likes me is not a reflection of me. And it’s okay not to be liked.

Of course, we want to be liked by everyone. It hurts to have someone say they don’t like you, to ignore you, or to avoid you. But have you ever thought about it from the other side? We don’t like everyone. And we aren’t perfect. What right do we have to expect everyone to like us?

Thankfully for us, it’s not our job to make people like us. We are here to please God, not people. We live for God.

God likes you just the way you are. God likes everyone else too. They are entitled to like or not like you, just as you are entitled to like or not like them. Are we still called to love them and treat them with respect? Of course. Even our enemies get some love.

But they don’t have to like you. And that’s okay. God loves you. You’re enough. Don’t try to be what others want just so they will like you. Be what God wants. He loves you and wants you to be happy, and isn’t that the best person to please? The one who already loves you as you are, and is excited when you grow and become better?

Have a blessed week!

How Much Does Hope Cost?

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

-Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

So I saw a quote this past week that has really stuck with me. It struck a chord with me because I had never thought of hope like this before. Here it is:

We hope for the best and when we get it, we want more.

With the Christmas season beginning, this takes on a very important meaning. We all hope we get one certain thing for Christmas. Maybe you have your eye on an iPod or a pair of shoes or a video game. Whatever it is, you hope that you get it.

Then Christmas comes, we get what we wanted and we get really excited, then immediately start thinking of something else we want. Money to buy songs to put on the iPod. A new outfit to go with the shoes. An expansion pack for the game. Take your pick.

You got what you wanted. So why do you still want more?

Perhaps because what you thought you wanted is not what you really needed. Did you really need a new iPod? Another pair of shoes? One more video game?

At the risk of sounding cliche, everyone needs Jesus. And on Christmas, that’s what we get. On Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’ birth. Jesus, who was born for us, given to us to teach us, be an example for us, and then to die on the cross for our sins. To give us hope that tomorrow can and will be better. Talk about a great gift. And boy, oh boy, was it expensive!

God is the reason we have hope. At this rather commercialized time of year, think about the hope we have and the reason we have it. True, Jesus is no iPod. No. He’s much, much better.

Have a blessed week!

Thanksgiving vs Stress

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

-Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

At this time of year, things get stressful. We get caught up in papers and tests and projects. We start worrying about finals and all we want is for Thanksgiving break to get here so we can rest for a bit and binge eat turkey and mashed potatoes. Which is great. Except we get so wrapped up in thinking of Thanksgiving as a break from stress that we forget that there is a purpose behind the holiday.

Thanksgiving is for being thankful. It’s about being thankful for what God has given us. All the blessings, both big and small. The last test you did really well on and the unexpectedly warm day after a week of cold and rain. The class that got cancelled and the pretty flower we saw on our way to lunch. It’s about remembering that through all our stress, God is still there and blessing us every day.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and as a way to relieve stress, I encourage you to make a list of at least five things for which you’re thankful. They can be as silly or as serious as you want them to be. For me at this moment, it would warm blankets, good books, bacon cheeseburgers, music, and homemade cookies.

See, now doesn’t it feel good to focus on what’s good?

Have a blessed week and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Let Go and Let God

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
-Psalm 9:10 (NIV)

Trust is a hard concept. The word trust is thrown around quite often, but most of the world has a hard time dealing with the reality of it. Advertisements on television tell us to trust them that their product is the best on the market. Our best friend tells us to trust them, we’ll love this guy or girl with whom we’re going on a blind date. Our significant other tells us to trust them when he or she says “I love you”.

Yet we get disappointed. The product doesn’t work right. The date is a disaster. The boyfriend cheats on you and skips town. It can be enough to make you never want to trust anyone or anything.

But living like that is hard. It hardens your heart and makes you bitter.

The only person you need to fully trust is God. Trust that God knows what he’s doing. He has a plan for you (Jer. 29:11) and everything that has happened to you will make sense down the road. All you have to do is trust that God will get you there. Because he will.

So instead of looking back and seeing the disappointing things that happened and the people who broke your trust, look back and see all the ways God is shaping you for a better future.

Please and Thank You

“I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

-Ephesians 1:16 (NIV)

We ask things of God all the time. We want that boy or girl to like us. We want that raise at work. We want to pass the test that we forgot to study for. We begin our prayers with, “God, please help me today with…”

I’m not saying it’s bad that we do this. God wants to help us. It’s important though to remember that, while it’s okay to ask God for things, it’s just as important to thank God for the blessings he’s already poured out on us. Sometimes we get so busy thinking about what we need to keep going, we forget what God has given us to get us to where we are. We forget to thank him for the best friend that listens to us as we go on and on about the cute boy or girl in class. We forget about the extra credit we got on the last quiz that boosted our score up a letter grade. We forget about how pretty the sky looked on the way to class that morning.

Don’t let being forgetful become a habit. Come to God as a child and see the good in everything. Now, what do we say?

And just in case you need some more examples of God’s everyday gifts